There are many ghost stories and lore in the Chicagoland area. Many of these stories are recorded in books concerning area ghosts. Chicago is not unique; most places have their recognized local haunts. Every city seems to have books about their “locals”. However, by the time these stories become popularized I suspect the ghosts are long gone. Hauntings don’t last forever.
Take the story of Resurrection Mary, which is the classic hitchhiker ghost. There may have been something real to this story long ago but it’s unlikely the spirit still wanders the streets looking for a ride. These popularly known stories soon get told and retold with embellishments added that they soon enter into the realm of modern folklore and urban myth. When “haunted” places are stops on ghost tours, we can be sure nothing remains to scare us.
Where are the current “live” ghosts? Are they all gone? Few current ghosts get any recognition. Perhaps we are just smarter now and less gullible. Are all known hauntings now debunked? I suspect ghosts are still all around but remain unrecognized. Perhaps in the 21st century our attention span has diminished with so many distractions. It would take something really dramatic to get noticed and ghostly phenomena are subtle at best.
Chicago area ghost enthusiasts have many useful references for local ghost lore. One book I recommend is Chicago Haunts by Ursula Bielski. I even have an autographed copy I bought long ago at a book signing. This past Halloween there was a local television show about area ghosts shown on a public TV station. It was “Hauntings of Chicago” hosted by author Ursala Bielski. Below is this show in two parts. It is not comprehensive, and deals with the past, but is worth a view.
Recently as I prepared for the night, and I lay down in bed, I heard a loud “SNAP”. What the heck was that? It sounded like some electrical circuit had exploded. I don’t believe a surge suppressor makes a snapping sound as far as I know, but maybe so. Therefore I was attentive, listening for another snap.
Nothing. Except a minute later I heard a knock on the bookcase by my bed. Ok…what was that? I continued to listen intently and soon I heard a rap elsewhere in the room. In the next 10 minutes I heard about a dozen strange sounds, knocks and raps. If this were a house, I’d say the creaks were the home settling down. Or the heating ducts could be banging or rattling.
However I live in a high-rise building and if the building itself were “settling” we have a serious structural problem. There are always sounds outside my unit, but these sounds were from inside my room. This was not a maintenance man banging on pipes. The “snap” was following by a number of knocks.
Normally nobody pays attention to odd sounds. But I paid attention. I have a term for these strange knocks. I call it the Knockergeist. A Knockergeist is an unexplained knock. Most likely there is a natural explanation for this. Or perhaps an unnatural explanation. Until such strange knocks are understood, they are simply the Knockergeist.
I created the term Knockergeist as a combination of the knocker spirit of folklore and the poltergeist. The Knocker was part of the miner folklore. They’d hear knocks in the mines and thought spirits were creating the sounds either as an omen of doom, or as a warning to flee. The rational explanation was that when a mine was about to collapse, there were creaking sounds preceding the disaster. Yet belief in the knocker spirit was widely held in the past.
A poltergeist is said to move things. The knocker spirit, or Knockergeist, only raps on furniture or walls. Nothing is moved. Assuming such an unnatural thing actually exists, what is it trying to do? It is trying sending a message like the mine warnings of old? When we hear these knocks, is it an omen of doom or a warning to pay attention to something ahead?
I honestly don’t know what to make of this incident. I’ve not heard knocks since then. It is easy enough to dismiss this as an odd anomaly and nothing worth pondering. Perhaps the Knockergeist visits many homes but nobody simply notices. However I will continue to listen.
Recently I had a strange experience. I’ve been ill recently. As I lay in bed with my eyes closed, but still awake, I saw the partial faces of people. They were dark, and for example one face showed only the bridge of his forehead, eyes and nose. It watched me and then passed away to be followed by another different face.
I assume in my illness I was hallucinating. Yet, perhaps in illness we are capable of recognizing the face of spirits in darkness. Consider it like the experience of shaman who makes contact with the spirit thru altered states of consciousness thru trails and tribulations.
My illustration above resembles in an incomplete way what I saw. The actual faces were realer in a very bizarre way. Were they friendly or sinister? What was their purpose? Perhaps they always hover in the darkness, in the background invisible, and we never recognize them until we do…and then they notice us!
Doomsday predictions come and go. However, concerning Saint Malachy’s doomsday prediction I am actually uneasy. Something about this his prophecy feels dangerous. I have friends who are preppers. They are truly storing food away and preparing for the worst. I chuckle at them, but with the arrival of Pope Francis, I might become a prepper myself.
The preppers I know imagine an economic collapse and the United States will become like Greece. I don’t see that happening. It would take a lot to collapse America and the global economy.
What could destroy modern civilization? A black swan event…a black swan such as an asteroid strike. Imagine something big dropping into either the Pacific or Atlantic oceans creating a global tsunami (like what occurred in Japan recently) destroying the coastlines of continents. We had a small asteroid explode over Russia just recently. We never knew it was coming.
According to these prophecies, an asteroid strike is what we are facing in the near future. The time is now to invest in sacks of rice and beans. You’ll likely never eat them, but if the Big Black Swan Event arrives, rice and beans will be like currency.
“In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations, after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people. The End.”
Nostradamus, Quatrain II.46
“The great star for seven days shall burn So nakedly clear like two suns appearing The large dog all night howling While the great Pontiff shall change his territory.”
Revelation Chapter 8:8
”And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood”
I took a picture of an embossed brass sheet containing Masonic symbols. Unfortunately the picture turned out fairly fuzzy. But that makes for a game…name the Masonic symbol. At the top row are what appears to be handshakes or hands making signs towards each other. The second row is a skull shape and something like a chain. On the third row are easily recognizable Masonic symbols such as the famous compass and angle. There is also a shield or anchor of some sort. There are other symbols like a crown, the Egyptian Ankh, some guys shaking hands and so forth. I believe this sheet was made in the 1920s. Some of these symbols are obscure and I can’t quite make them out. Call them out!
Debbie is a widow. Her husband died over a year and a half ago from complications related to a severe stroke he suffered. Her husband was over 15 years older then herself, but he was a healthy older man otherwise…until the stroke. Obviously being a widow and outliving your husband is not something easily dealt with, but Debbie managed.
Debbie said that over 6 months ago, she had a vision. It was not a dream, but in her view it was a genuine vision. As she lay in bed, beside her bed appeared a fountain. She described it as unnaturally beautiful and amazing as the fountain poured out crystals like diamonds in the shape of water drops instead of simply water. She was amazed at this almost celestial vision. It was something she never experienced before or since.
Then she heard a Voice.
The Voice said, “Do not be afraid, everything will be fine, in honor of your husband. Do not be afraid.” The Voice repeated its message and then the vision faded away.
What did this vision mean? Debbie had no idea, but was struck by what she had seen.
A month and a half later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had no clue. This was a pretty nasty form of breast cancer. The cancer physically erupted from her breast as she checked it. She had to go for chemo. As a working woman, this was difficult but she showed up for work regardless; she had no choice. Eventually her breast was removed, and then she returned for radiation treatment. It was rough for her. Fortunately Debbie had her grown children to aid her through this ordeal.
During her treatment she didn’t know if this would be a death sentence. Today Debbie has endured her treatment and she is ok. She assumes the vision of the fountain and the Voice was from God. It was a prophecy meant to comfort her during her cancer ordeal. Curiously, the voice mentioned her husband. The voice said her recovery would be in honor of her husband who was a serious Christian man.
This accurate cancer prophecy was intriguing. Debbie received a warning that did not exactly spell out the problem, but warned of trouble on the horizon. When such warning appears, take notice!
Additionally, can the dead make appeals for the living? This “voice” specifically mentioned her dead husband. Her deceased husband adds another element into this. It is thought dead saints can petition for the benefit of the living. Debbie’s husband was a very pious, religious man. Can our dead relatives do the same? Some religions practice ancestor worship for that very purpose. Debbie does not believe in any such thing, but perhaps there is something to the concept. The Voice said, “In honor of her husband” she would be ok.
Do the dead watch out for us? Sometimes when I am in stress and near despair, I feel as if my mother is beside me. This may not be just be in our imagination.
I got a phone call. It was from an acquaintance living on a higher floor in the building where I live.
“Dave, can you come up and help Tony. He is laying on the floor in the hallway.”
I frowned…and sighed. Ok, lets get up there and see what is happening. I put on my shoes and arrived on this higher floor. I saw Tony sprawled on the floor at the door of our mutual acquaintance. I approached them and asked, “What’s up?”
Tony had trouble walking recently, and had crawled down the hallway to his friend’s door, then pounded on it asking for help. Tony said there were three people in his apartment, people he didn’t know. He was escaping them.
Now, it must be known that Tony was a drinker, a binge drinker. He was an older retired guy whose pastime were mainly libations. I entered his condo to make sure there was nobody there, and to get his walker. I looked around and no surprise nobody was there. When I returned to Tony with his walker the paramedics had arrived to take him away. Our mutual acquaintance had called 911.
Days later I visited Tony after he got back from his stay at the hospital to see how he was doing. He insisted that there were actual people in his condominium. He had a habit of leaving his door unlocked since he had trouble walking and didn’t always want to get up to open the door for visitors. However, his story got pretty strange.
While he was drying out from one of his binges, Tony said someone who resembled his nephew visited him. Tony’s nephew didn’t say anything outside of a few words. His nephew look-alike sat and watched television with him for quite a few hours and then left.
Later someone resembling a former lady friend arrived. Again, she said little and sat and joined him in watching television, saying little. Finally someone arrived who he thought was his good friend George. Little words were exchanged and they just hanged out. The following day he had his encounter with three strangers whom he called ugly, scary guys. That is when he escaped and crawled for help.
Tony was probably having alcohol-induced withdrawal hallucinations. Yet there were curious aspects to his hallucination. He didn’t see snakes, pink elephants or such fantasies. He saw versions of people he knew that seemed real. These were long hallucinations seemingly lasting for hours at a time. They appeared totally real to him. Even now he insisted his visitors were not his imagination. Tony totally believed actual people visited him. His friend George was with us as Tony told his story, and George and I glanced at each other. George had not visited him when he had his hallucination.
Let us speculate about Tony’s hallucinations.
First, Tony’s hallucinations were fairly extraordinary. They were grounded in reality and lasted for hours. Their reality was such that it led to him fleeing his condominium to escape his “visitors”. If nothing else this shows that hallucinations can be utterly convincing, which could explain away a great deal of paranormal occurrences.
It has been speculated that individuals who are in altered states of consciousness can contact “other realms”. Shaman would consume fly agaric mushrooms to attain such altered states of consciousness where they would have visions. It is possible that Tony had entered such an altered state of consciousness. He might have experienced the same visions a shaman had. A shaman would consider such “visitors” as dead ancestors or spirit guides. Tony thought they were real people.
However, what if shaman actually encounters actual spirits during altered states of consciousness? If this is possible, then perhaps Tony did so as well. Tony might have had an encounter with Walk-Ins. In his case the term is nearly literal, as they literally walked into his home.
A walk-in is thought to be a spirit that inhabits one’s body, not unlike possession, except without the drama. Consider it a kinder, gentler form of possession. When the barriers of one’s identify are lowered with substance abuse, something might “walk in”.
The walk-in may be our subconscious mind manifesting itself into our conscious mind. The walk-in could be the conscious and subconscious merging. There is nothing paranormal about this. Tony’s vivid hallucinations could explain away such things as alien abduction. People may insist (like Tony) that it was real.
On the other hand what if something else inspired his hallucination? Did Tony actually experience spontaneous shamanism? Could he have encountered true walk-ins? Were there actual spirits sitting on his couch? Tony insists they were real people. Maybe they were real, but not people. They could have been walk-ins.
I admit to being something of a tarot card fundamentalist. There are tarot card fundamentals that define what the tarot is. Today there is any number of fun tarot decks, many quite whimsical. There are fairy decks, witch decks, angel decks, and cat decks, even a zombie deck. What next? A superhero tarot? Modern interpretations may be fun and attractive, but don’t think they are the real deal. They are NOT proper tarot cards. That is my fundamentalism rising.
I consider the Tarot of Marseilles to be the basis for authentic, traditional tarot cards based in the past. They have symbolism filled with alchemical and astrological influence. Unfortunately, the tarot of Marseilles is also an ugly, awkward appearing deck. It is no surprise some have wanted to pretty it up along with trying to make the symbolism more literal. That is what the Rider-Waite deck did, and lost something of the original meaning in the process.
Another older deck preceding the Rider-Waite deck is the Book of Thoth Etteilla Tarot (not the Crowley version). Here is another example of an altered version of the tarot, but from the pre-Waite past. Let us compare these different versions.
At the top of this page is a comparison of the first card of the tarot, the Magician, or also known as the Juggler. The Tarot of Marseilles shows a juggler doing common magic tricks. The Rider-Waite version reinterprets the simple juggler as a true magician, basing it on the genuine but obscure symbolism of the Marseilles card..
The Book of Thoth magician/juggler combines both aspects. The character is a stage magician, but on his table (instead of objects) is a doll facing backwards toward the audience. This doll is the magician himself (or you observing this card) in the material world (the square table representing materialism). It is a wonderful example of the concept of “as above, so below”. The mage is the doll’s higher self, or so that is how I interpret the card.
Here we have the different versions of the Lightning Struck Tower. The Marseilles card is stiff and awkward. The Rider-Waite card is a more dramatic interpretation of the Marseilles card. The Book of Thoth card shows an earthquake inspired by the sun collapsing a city in flames. I was once told that the tower actually represents the human body, and that if the crown (mind/spirit) is severed from the body, bad things follow. Notice the tower is flesh colored? That is lost in other interpretations. This card is not about earthquakes.
Looking at the Judgment card above, they all look similar. Not really. The card appears to be the biblical judgment day and the resurrection of the dead. It could also be interpreted as the angels (or our higher-self) calling for us to transcend the mundane world and attain spiritual enlightenment. In the Marseilles card, of interest is the man in the center with his back facing us. That suggests it represents the person looking at the card…you. The Rider-Waite turns the individuals into mother/father/child. You are no longer part of this picture.
The Book of Thoth card is interesting. It shows an individual noticing the angel with joy. The other individuals in the card are busy gossiping and are otherwise preoccupied. Only few attain spiritual enlightenment, the rest of us are too busy to notice.
Finally we will look at the Book of Thoth’s Death card. I liked this card. I thought it was striking, better then the other deck’s death cards. Something about it spoke to me, like I’ve seen it somewhere else before. Ah yes. This card was lifted from a famous wood cut, The Nuremberg Chronicle’s Dance of Death (1493). I suppose the cat tarot or the zombie tarot is not alone in borrowing ideas from other sources.
We’ve all heard of haunted houses. They are a staple of both literature and real life. But what about a haunted condo or apartment building? We don’t hear much about those. If anything, there should be more hauntings in a high-rise then in a single house, with the number of people who live in such buildings and all the drama and death that goes with the many residents.
Apartment buildings and condos seem to be spook proof, but I’d guess only because nobody would pay attention to them. Living in a building tends to be noisy. I live in an older high-rise, and there are always sounds in the background. Someone could be talking in the hallway just outside earshot, but enough to notice. On occasion I can hear the “tap tap” of someone walking above my unit in high heels. Oh! What is that? I note an argument in the unit to my left with shouting noticeable. If all this dim noise happened in a single residence, we’d swear it was haunted. In a multi-unit dwelling, it’s part of the ambient background sound.
If there were an actual haunting, who’d notice? On occasion, as I lay in bed and all is quiet, I will simply listen. I pay attention to every little sound. I can hear the clock ticking. The heat will turn on and then off. Somebody is doing something in the unit above me. There is always the background sound of a large building.
However, recently I’ve heard something different. It doesn’t appear often, but it seems like at least once a night. On occasion I hear a fairly loud rap in the room. Exactly where it comes from I really can’t tell. It sounds like someone is striking wood with their knuckles. It happens only once and that is it. I really would not pay much attention to it, except it appears to be coming from inside my unit.
Since then I’ve been paying more attention to my surroundings as I prepare for sleep. One night as I lay alone in bed, it felt like my bed swayed just the tiniest bit, as if with the most subtle shake. I was perfectly still. An earth tremor? That is possible but Chicago rarely has tremors.
Then I recalled a phone call I got from the building’s management a couple months ago. Someone in a unit somewhere in the floors directly above me said they felt their unit shake. She asked if I ever experienced shaking or swaying in my floor’s unit.
“No” I replied, “Never did.” She was satisfied with my answer and I believe the individual’s complaint was dropped. Now I’m beginning to wonder. Someone must have experienced something, a shaking of some sort, probably when they were in bed. What exactly did they experience, if the building itself did not tremble? Someone would not complain to the management if they did not actually experience something disturbing.
Who knows, maybe this old building has its ghosts, for all the people who have died here. Perhaps ghosts are trying to get people’s attention, but nobody notices. Shaking beds and knocking on tables is not enough to get noticed in this place.
A scarier thought…what if something is actually wrong with this building.
What is second sight?
Some people are considered gifted with a talent for the mystical ability called second sight. These individuals are said able to see that which is invisible to our naked eyes, things existing in the spirit world operating alongside of us out of sight. They may see ghosts, entities or visions. This is said to be the gift of mystics, prophets, saints, psychics and crazy people.
Is second sight real?
If second sight is the ability to see images without our physical eyes then it is very real. Normal sight is the result of light on the optic nerves in our eyes. Second sight consists of seeing things in our mind without the aid of our eyes. We do this every time we dream. We clearly see imagery in our dreams, often quite vividly of things we have never seen before. Essentially it is the use of spontaneous visualization. It is very real, but a better question would be if second sight were supernatural or only our imagination at work.
How does second sight work?
There is something that can best be described as spirit-sight: to see with our spirit and not our physical eyes. An example of this is encountered in the near-death, out-of-body experience. In the NDE individuals have been reported to accurately see and later describe events outside their body, even in total darkness. Obviously they are not using biological eyes, but some other sense related to their soul. Second sight is the use of this same spirit-sight while we are still in our bodies. If we could access this other “soul-sense”, even a little, we might be able to perceive that which exists in the spirit but is invisible to our naked eye.
How can we develop second sight?
Practice visualization with imagination. Try visualization with your eyes closed. This can be done as we lay in bed before we are ready to sleep. Create a waking dream in your mind. Try to create vivid images of people, animals, or objects. This should be fairly easy to do.
Once you have practiced this, try visualizing with your eyes open. This is more difficult then you might imagine. It is like an induced hallucination, but very focused. I suggest trying to imagine an animal, say a rabbit, squirrel or bird. You can do this anywhere…visualize a rabbit near you…actually see it in your mind…make it solid. See a rabbit on the floor in your office, or by your television at home. It will be like a waking dream.
WARNING: Only individuals who are disciplined and self-aware should use these practices. Purposely creating hallucinations can be disorienting. Occult activities carry dangers, and unstable individuals should not engage in these practices.
Once you have mastered the art of imagination and waking visualization, the final step is to let visualizing happen spontaneously without trying to control it. Do not try this all the time. You need to control this practice to a set time and place, to turn it on and off with the ritual of your choice. For a Christian you could make the sign of the cross before your attempt and then afterwards to close it down. For an occultist the Cabalistic Cross would be appropriate. You don’t want unintended hallucinations popping up.
Go to a place where you think spirits might dwell, and let visualization appear unguided. Images may appear in your mind. It might just be your subconscious at work, but there is the chance it might be something else. If you start to see stuff, you just might have developed second sight.
Here is an example of something that resembles second sight. One summer day as the sun was setting, I sat outside my father’s home alone in his yard. He has a huge evergreen tree in his backyard. Rabbits hide under this tree. Squirrels wander around it. Robins build nests in it. Blue Jays visit. Where there are rabbits, birds and squirrels, there is a possibility of nature spirits (assuming such things exist). I sat quietly and visualized without intent, not knowing what to expect.
Soon I imagined I saw a tiny female figure emerge from under the evergreen tree. It was perhaps 8 inches tall, or the size to ride a rabbit like a pony. She wore a curious outfit. The figure did not notice me as I looked on hoping my visualizing wouldn’t vanish. A few more tiny figures emerged from under the low-lying foliage. As I watched, the first figure noticed I could see it. It looked back at me intently It gestured to the others, and they returned under the evergreen tree. My vision was over.
Was it simply my unconscious mind creating a daydream? Most likely. However, the romantic in me likes to think fairies live under my dad’s evergreen tree along with the rabbits, squirrels and birds.